Almost any owner, manager, or business executive has to be concerned about managing customer relations, since customers are who drive a business and make it successful. This has been true ever since the beginning of commerce, and even though the methods for managing customer relations have grown much more sophisticated, the importance of establishing and maintaining those good customer relations has always been just as critical.
Development of Customer Relationship Management (CRM)
Decades ago, customer relations were handled by spreadsheets, Rolodex files, and the occasional customer call whenever sales personnel got around to it. From those humble and irregular beginnings, some extremely capable systems have emerged in business today to handle customer relations from the moment of first contact, through the purchasing cycle, and into an ongoing relationship of customer loyalty.
CRM systems track prospects, customers, and sales, often at a very detailed level. It can operate as a standalone system or it can be integrated with other business functions like order management, sales, shipping, and even your company cloud environment.
A customer is more than just an address and their sales history. Nowadays, it has become important to understand a customer’s needs, desires, and preferences, so that sales personnel have a better opportunity to reach customers with an appropriate message. A CRM allows companies to target specific customers or groups of customers with products and services tailored to those customers.
Because businesses focus a great deal of attention on CRM systems, a great deal of effort has been put into improving and enhancing the capabilities of today’s CRM systems. That gives businesses of every size and shape the opportunity to find a CRM package that suits their needs, and allows them to maintain good relations with their customer base.
Benefits of CRM Systems to Your Company
In addition to this very detailed tracking and storage of customer data, a CRM system can provide even more benefits for a company, such as:
- Better customer relations – using a CRM in a larger company to conduct servicing, marketing, and selling is the most organized and systematic way of accomplishing those activities. Because you have a better understanding of customer needs and desires, you can provide a better service to them. You can also receive regular feedback from customers so that you can stay abreast of any changing interests on their part.
- Higher customer revenues – CRM usage will increase your company’s revenue. The data you collect will help to promote products in the most effective manner and target customers who are the most likely to buy said products.
- Increased upselling and cross-selling – having an understanding of customer’s purchase history, current needs, and interests will allow you to promote premium products to them and cross-sell related products.
- Improved internal communication – the sharing of customer data between departments and across an entire organization helps your employees work together as a team, rather than functioning in silos and making individual efforts.
- Maximize marketing effectiveness – the wealth of information provided by a CRM will allow you to identify the most profitable customer groups, to understand when to market new products and whom to market them to, and to consult customer behaviors of the past to predict future purchasing behavior.
- Streamlined sales process – since you always know which phase of the purchase cycle a customer is at, you can be much more efficient about advancing them to the next phase.
- Better customer engagement – an entire history of customer relations is available through a CRM, so you can always track prior contacts, plan for future contacts, and encourage customer-initiated contact.
Should Your CRM System be Integrated?
There are several levels of integration possible with your CRM system. As mentioned before, your CRM can integrate with your other business application systems to improve efficiency of your overall processing, from end to end. Then too, your CRM can integrate with your website, so that valuable prospect and customer information entered on the website can be added to your CRM database.
This is another way of gaining efficiency with your sales process, since legitimate leads will be coming through from your website, and a great deal of information can be populated directly into your database right from the website. In addition to all the static data that you might gain, you’ll also be able to learn some helpful information about customer behavior on your website.
You’ll know when a prospect visited your website, what things were most interesting to them as they browse through the pages of your site, whether they watched any product videos or read any text, what kinds of data objects or graphics they clicked on while they were there, and what kind of information they may have requested from your company. This kind of information can be invaluable in assessing customer interest, and how they should be approached by sales personnel.